Author: Erica MathyeIn this digital age, great football photographers and videographers have the power to sum up a match, a season and even an individual’s career. One would think that the emergence of smartphones would take away from the tradition of cameras, but a perfectly composed and crisp picture or video still can cut through the noise. This is the power of telling a story through the lense of storytellers. You see the work, but you can’t put a face to the work.In this edition of the Digital Magazine, we sat down with one of the many storytellers at Mamelodi Sundowns, Thato Ngwenya, who specialises in production and editing and has been handling video production and editing the Club for over three years.
Now and then, he shoots videos that transcend matches and acquire a meaning that resonates with not just the Yellow Nation, but every single person that has access to the Mamelodi Sundowns Social Media platforms.

Thato’s journey at Mamelodi Sundowns as a videographer and content contributor for the Mamelodi Sundowns digital channels began in 2021. His odyssey started with the Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies Team, where he documented their historic run in the inaugural CAF Women’s Champions League (CAFWCL). Through his lenses, he captured their trials and triumphs to the championship victory.

“One cannot explain that whole experience, it was incredible and it's about looking at the available opportunities. When I joined the Club, I realised that there was an opportunity to profile the Ladies' Team and document their journey. My first game with the Ladies' team was against TUT, and that is when I truly fell in love with the team,” Thato reminisced.
“My first major project was covering their COSAFA Cup win in Durban. That victory propelled them to the big stage: the CAFWCL. Participating in the Champions League was an incredible experience. Being the eyes and ears of the public, as videographers often are, felt incredibly exciting. A special highlight for me was receiving a Champions League medal alongside the team. Coach Jerry Tshabalala, Team Manager Dipuo Maboe, and the entire technical team made this possible. It truly made me feel like part of the team,” he continued.

Storytellers like Thato Ngwenya carry on a tradition that stretches back for decades. They stand pitch-side, rain or shine, their camera movements and shot selection making the difference between a winning capture and a missed opportunity. Thato, in particular, possesses a mastery of his craft, weaving emotions into videos that resonate deeply with viewers, transcending language and cultural barriers.

“Sometimes, capturing emotions is simply about being in the right place at the right time. But I’ve also learned to separate my own emotions from the job. I focus on capturing the raw moments unfolding in front of me. Then, during editing, if a video even touches me, I know it will likely evoke emotions in viewers as well,” he stated.

“One video stands out for me, and everyone who saw it. The Ladies had just clinched a spot in the final, and emotions ran high. I was there to capture the raw joy. What made it truly special was the national exposure. Different broadcasters picked up the video, elevating the Ladies Team’s profile and sparking public interest. The raw emotions resonated deeply with people across the country,” Thato continued.

Thato’s transition to the first team was a swift one. Two full seasons later, working alongside Coach Rulani Mokwena’s squad, Thato feels right at home and has embraced the pressure.
“There’s more pressure with the First Team. After all, they’re the benchmark of the Club’s high-octane performance. The transition from the Ladies Team to the Men’s Team wasn’t difficult. My core skills remained the same, from the Ladies Team to the First Team. It’s just the level of detail and pressure that's dialed up a notch. Thankfully, Coach Rulani and the entire team welcomed me with open arms, which made the adjustment much smoother,” he said.
Thato’s journey is truly remarkable. Working alongside these Champion teams has made his experience even sweeter. Let’s hear him share some of the highlights of his career at the Club so far.
“At the top of my list is winning the CAFWCL with the Ladies Team. Second, securing the African Football League (AFL) trophy was truly special, especially considering the challenges we faced throughout the tournament. But there’s another highlight close to my heart: the internship program. As a former intern myself, mentoring these aspiring storytellers and sharing my experience over the past two decades has been incredibly rewarding. I applaud the Club for this initiative, and I hope we can welcome even more interns in the future,” he concluded.
Thato Ngwenya’s story exemplifies the enduring power of visual storytelling in football. Through his lens, he has captured the raw emotions and triumphs that ignite the Yellow Nation anywhere that they might be watching the content.